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A small operation wants to stay that way

July 1, 2009
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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Justin Daniels knows that as the CEO of an upscale 15-bed addiction treatment center, he is likely expected by some to experience a downturn in business due to the nation's prolonged economic slump-and maybe even to see his facility eventually incorporated into a larger entity. Yet neither of those thoughts appear to worry this businessman greatly as he pursues what he now considers his life's passion.

“Clarity Way was developed to continue a legacy; this is the type of place I should have gone to in treatment,” Daniels says of his center located on six acres nestled in the rolling hills of south central Pennsylvania, near Gettysburg. “I want Clarity Way to carry on for years and years.”

Open for about 18 months, the exclusively private-pay Clarity Way (http://clarityway.com) began to go through its first rough patch late last year with the national economic downturn. Treatment at the center, which offers what it terms a “multi-sensory and multi-disciplinary” treatment approach that seeks to individualize treatment plans, offer round-the-clock medical support and feature integrated mind-body interventions, costs between $30,000 and $40,000 for 30 days. Most clients, mainly professionals, tend to stay 90 days or longer, Daniels says.

But Daniels points out that after being at about three-quarters of capacity for a month or so earlier this year, Clarity Way is again operating at full capacity with a waiting list. He attributes the turnaround in part to an aggressive branding of the center, through stepped-up appearances at trade shows and a blitz of Internet marketing.

“Being a small fish, we have to explain our processes very thoroughly,” Daniels says. “We get a lot of our clients from the Internet,” drawing largely from New York and Connecticut but also attracting admissions from Canada, California and other locations.

Family matter

Daniels and his wife Robin experienced the pain of his addiction firsthand in their family, and they now approach their work at Clarity Way as a family business that treats a family illness. Justin Daniels serves as Clarity Way's president and CEO and Robin is the vice president and facility director.

The couple still owns and is involved in several other businesses, including day care centers and companies that restore damaged property. They say they have found addiction treatment to be unlike any other area in which they have worked. “It's a very open kind of environment here; we're all here to help others,” Daniels says. “These are life-or-death issues we're dealing with here.”

In promoting its services during difficult economic times, Clarity Way emphasizes the newness of its facility along with the fresh thinking reflected in a “whatever it takes” approach to each individual's treatment. The facility's Web site mentions spiritual, cognitive-behavioral, educational and arts-based approaches to treatment among the areas it might incorporate into individuals' treatment plans. “We're a newer facility and our energy level is high,” Daniels says.

Clarity Way also has invested significantly in amenities and services that highlight the importance of wellness-based strategies for persons in recovery. Besides serving food prepared by a trained gourmet chef, the facility also makes the topic of nutrition an integral subject in therapy sessions, Daniels says. Clarity Way also offers clients time with a personal trainer brought into the facility.

In keeping with the needs of its professional clients, Clarity Way's campus includes an equipped business center. One of the facility's more unusual features is a recording studio, established by a member of the band Blind Melon, that is available for residents' use.

Demonstrating value

Despite the bleak picture for public-sector budgets right now and the resulting hardships on facilities that receive public support, Daniels believes what facilities such as his are currently facing because of the state of the economy might be even more challenging. His task is to continue to demonstrate value and to establish name recognition for the facility at a time when some potential clients might be inclined to turn to more tried-and-true options for their treatment.

In terms of what he sees in the field in general, Daniels says it remains important to have a clear value system and a set of guiding principles in place. “We have to make sure that we're putting first the people we're trying to help, and that we're doing what's best for them,” he says.

Daniels emphasizes that while he and his wife could have financed a larger treatment operation, it was important for them to establish and maintain a smaller center. “When you get too big, you're going to lack that personal attention,” he says. He adds that he sees no reason now or in the long term to seek to become part of something larger.

Addiction Professional 2009 July-August;7(4):42